BBC Arabic chief leaves for Yahoo

Hosam el Sokkari, the head of BBC Arabic, has left the BBC to take a job as the somewhat mysteriously titled "head of channels" at Yahoo's Middle East operations.

The move comes just weeks after the BBC announced that it would not be continuing Sokkari's brainchild, the social media-driven 710 Greenwich, after airing only five episodes of the show. But Mr Sokkari says that his departure is not tied to that decision.

"Th project was a very successful one," he said. "I think it was seen as a start for a new sort of programming. It was global first, never been done before."

Ideas for the programme were hashed out via Twitter and Facebook, and the online community was encouraged to submit questions for future interviews.

Mr Sokkari, who has spent 15 years at the BBC, will be taking his interest in social networking over to Yahoo, which is planning a major expansion in the Middle East since buying the regional internet juggernaut Maktoob last year.

His new title refers not to televisions channels, but rather to content channels in English, Arabic and French, he said.

"Yahoo is expanding, it is building a stronger position in the MIddle East, and this is part of that," he said.

He will be based in Dubai, after spending a decade and a half based in London, and will help Yahoo with its exapansion.

"We have plants to create other operations in other parts of the world."

The BBC Global News internal memo about the departure after the jump: 
To all staff in BBC Global News

Hosam El Sokkari, Head of BBC Arabic, is leaving the BBC.
Hosam will be taking a new position as the Head of Yahoo! Channels in the Middle East (currently English, Arabic and French).

Hosam has been a distinguished journalist, presenter and leader in BBC Arabic for 15 years.
He has been at the leading edge of innovation in journalism for the Arab world. In 1999 he launched the BBC Arabic online site, bbcarabic.com, and played a key role in developing the service's multimedia capability. In 2004 he became the first Arab to head the service since its launch in 1938 and led the service for the launch of BBC Arabic TV, an integral part of a unique multimedia offer to the Arab world.

Hosam's early involvement in internet journalism, even prior to the launch of bbcarabic.com, has been a hallmark of his career. He pioneered close working across different platforms, ensuring that interactivity was at the heart of the new TV service.

Hosam also has considerable experience as a presenter, especially of major debates and interactive programmes. He has a well grounded reputation throughout the Arab world through his presenting and through his public representation of the BBC.

He has most recently been working on a special project for me to create a programme that integrates TV with social media networks. The success of 710 Greenwich has paved the way for a new genre of programming and its innovative approach will certainly be an inspiration. The programme has been a prime example of the way Hosam has always looked to break the traditions of a radio-dominated institution in new and exciting ways. Hosam's desire to push creative boundaries is a strong urge and one of his key skills.
I thank him for his distinguished service to the BBC.

Peter

Peter Horrocks ?
Director, BBC Global News


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